Three affiliated nonprofits in the region that specialize in developing affordable housing have contributed $311 million to the economies of their home counties from 2008 to 2012, and have sustained 509 jobs during that time, according to a recent study.
The local groups included in the study by New England Research Group, a Vermont-based market research company, are St. Mary Development Corporation of Dayton, Neighborhood Housing Services of Hamilton and Neighborhood Housing Partnership of Greater Springfield. They are among nine organizations focused on providing affordable housing that belong to the NeighborWorks Collaborative of Ohio, which sponsored the study.
“I think it’s important that people understand our work has a larger impact on the community,” said Beth Deutscher, executive director of the HomeOwnership Center of Greater Dayton, one of St. Mary Development’s programs.
“We’re helping to create jobs because people are building the buildings that we’re sponsoring, the materials are being purchased. The people who have jobs as a result of that also spend those dollars in the local economy, and it also generates tax revenue.”
The study analyzed the effects of the physical construction of affordable housing, community development activity, and counseling and educational programs to help first-time home buyers and homeowners who are struggling to prevent foreclosure.
It found that during the five years studied, St. Mary sustained more than 379 jobs annually, generated $88 million of income to local employees, $26 million in tax revenue and more than $230 million in total economic impact in Montgomery County.
Statewide, the nine nonprofits in the NeighborWorks Collaborative have generated an estimated $1.4 billion during the time period studied and sustained 2,347 jobs.
The study also found that for every $1 St. Mary received in public and private funding, it generated $16.34 in economic benefit to the community.
But Richard Stock, director of the Business Research Group at the University of Dayton, said the study underestimates the benefit to the community.
While the study attempts to account for the impact of people who would have lost their homes and moved out of the area, Stock said, it does not fully cover the value of the damage to a neighborhood that does not occur when a home is not foreclosed on as a result of the counseling and outreach of the HomeOwnership Center.
“I think the economic impact study is extremely conservative because it does not portray some of the external impacts on neighborhoods from foreclosures avoided,” Stock said.
Organizations like St. Mary Development play an important role in the community, he said.
“There is a set of funds that can be pulled into communities through organizations like St. Mary Development Corporation. And if you don’t have those types of corporations, you’re not going to get those funds.”
Since its first development – the 1993 construction of the Twin Towers Place affordable apartment housing for seniors – St. Mary, working with partners, has built 3,100 affordable housing units. The organization built 608 single- and multi-family units in Montgomery County during the study period.
Among them are 40 new homes in Dayton’s Roosevelt Neighborhood that are part of a lease-to-own program. St. Mary also worked with the city of Dayton, which has demolished many blighted structures to make room for the new development.
“So that’s a pretty significant improvement in that neighborhood just with that one project,” Deutscher said. “I think it would be safe to say that but for St. Mary Development, these projects would not have happened.”
The city of Dayton reached out to St. Mary and the Miller-Valentine Group, who are frequent partners in developing affordable housing, said Aaron Sorrell, director of planning and community development. The city wanted to attempt to revitalize the neighborhood adjacent to the new Greater Dayton Recreation Center on West Third Street.
“Both St. Mary and the Miller-Valentine Group played an instrumental role in acquiring properties, securing funding for the development in order to both remove blight and build a new (housing) product, and begin the revitalization of that neighborhood,” Sorrell said.
Walt Hibner, executive director of the Home Builders Association of Dayton, sits on the St. Mary board. He agreed that the organization plays a vital role in the region.
“You’ve got to have a nonprofit partner as a development partner in these projects to get the funding from the state,” Hibner said. “St. Mary has been a big player in many of the developments that have occurred in the past five years.
“The number of units they’ve put in the ground for mostly kind of elderly folks on limited incomes is vital for us because affordable housing is more and more scarce to come by.”
Sorrell said St. Mary has been a “terrific partner” in the city’s revitalization work for decades.
“They work well with all of the neighborhoods,” he said. “And they really do have the neighborhoods and the individual families at the heart of their mission.
“We enjoy working with them, and we want to continue that partnership over the decades to come.”